Is this a story you've wanted to tell for a long time?
My first attempt to make to make this film started in 1996. I had the idea in my head beforehand, but that was when I first approached the unit and the prosecutors about the possibility of doing some filming. It wasn't until 2009, when the District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced his retirement, that I found my opening. Since he was the one that really gave birth to that unit, I told him it would be his last chance to have this documentary made capturing his legacy. He agreed to do it and laid out some ground rules.
Did you know which cases you wanted to follow going in?
We had to go along with whatever was happening. Part of the agreement was that we could only show the cases that were over by the time we finished filming. We were very lucky with the Rios case that went to trial during our time frame—the one with the prostitute who was raped—because it was a terrific case with great prosecutors.
How long did you film for?
We shot for two years. Some of the cases started much earlier—Natasha's was in 1993—but the trial wasn't until in 2008.
Why did Natasha decide to share her story?
I was introduced to her by two women in the Cold Case unit, with whom she'd participated in a Powerpoint demonstration. They thought she might be willing to talk to a journalist, and she was. It was a combination of factors. She was ready. She knew me and trusted that would I do right with her story. Since the film, she has left the museum where she worked to start a foundation that's devoted to helping women who are survivors of sexual violence and ending the backlog of rape kits that have accumulated in so many departments. She's found a new path for her life.
It seems in the film that the majority of the department is female. Do you think there's a reason for that?
There are 40 senior assistant district attorneys there and 28 are women, so they are the majority. There is a scene in the film when Artie McConnell, one of the male prosecutors, has to describe in graphic detail what happened during one of the assaults, and some guys have trouble with that.